Ask Rick 169 03/09/11
Have Blackberry Will Travel
When I travel abroad or in the UK I always
ensure that the accommodation that I am staying in has Wi-Fi because I run my
own accountancy business so I need to ensure that I can access my emails etc
from my laptop. You recently mentioned that a Windows 7 netbook could be linked
to the Internet via an HTC Android smart phone using the Portable Wi-Fi Hotspot
app so I was wondering whether this would be possible to use a similar method
for a Vista laptop and a Blackberry Curve 9300 on a Vodafone PAYG SIM card?
Mark Cornwell, by email
Although there is no comparable wireless app
for the Blackberry it is possible to use it as a mobile broadband modem by
connecting or tethering it to your PC with a USB cable or via Bluetooth. You
have to install Blackberry’s Desktop Manager software on the PC and fiddle with
a number of configuration settings, so it’s not for the faint hearted, but
you’ll find step-by-step instructions on the Blackberry Knowledgebase at: http://goo.gl/X6lr2.
Kith and Kindle
I recently purchased a Kindle e-book reader for
my wife. She is delighted with it but
this does mean that I can no longer read a book after her as I used to do
occasionally with printed books. I am considering buying an iPad for which I
gather a free Kindle app is available.
Would this enable me to access her already purchased Kindle library?
John Francis, by email
Yes, and devices like the iPad, iPhone, Android
tablets, smart phones, PCs and Macs for which a Kindle Reader app is available,
as well as other Kindles, can share the books registered to one Amazon account.
There are a few imitations, for example, no more than six devices or Kindles
can simultaneously read a single book, and it’s not possible to share
subscriptions to newspapers and magazines. Otherwise it is very straightforward
and to access your wife’s books simply go into the Kindle Reader’s Settings
menu and under Registration enter her Amazon logon email address and password.
It should automatically sync with the account and her books will be available
to download in Archived Items.
Purchasing my new Windows 7 PC was a pretty bad
experience, even though I am a reasonably experienced computer user. It must be
dreadful for those buying a PC for the first time. The first week is spent
fielding barrages of updates from Microsoft, the PC manufacturer, Adobe, et al.
In addition, until recently pretty well all PC’s had MS Works installed on
them. Sadly this is no longer the case, so the hapless newcomer is steered, at
a cost, towards the hugely over-complex MS Office package. Can you offer any
advice to guide new users through the minefield?
Chris Pryce, by email
You paint a rather bleak picture and I suspect
it been a while since you last bought a PC. Generally speaking W7 PCs are
easier to use but it’s true that some things have become a tad more complicated
as a result of increasingly sophisticated hardware and software and security
threats. However, as far as updates are concerned, usually all the user has to
do is click a button to agree to them being installed. This should be no great
hardship, even for newbies. Once a system is fully up to date further routine
updates are either installed automatically or just a few times a year with
little or no user intervention.
Microsoft Works was bundled with some PCs as a
buying incentive but it never was a free program. If you have a Works
installation disc from a previous PC (Works v7 or later) there’s nothing to
stop you installing it on your new computer. Failing that new and unregistered
copies of Works can be found on ebay selling for under £5.00. If you haven’t
got a disc, then why not try OpenOffice.org? It’s a full office suite,
comparable and compatible with MS Office, and the word processor is really easy
to use. For simple writing jobs you don’t have to worry about the bells and
whistles, but they are there if you need them. It is Open Source software so
it’s free and you will find a link to the download at: www.openoffice.org. If all you want is a
simple word processor then try one of the many freeware alternatives like
Abiword or Jarte and there are links to the downloads at: http://goo.gl/eC7BH.
I have a two-year old laptop, which I reboot
and shut down daily. In order to preserve my machine, would it be better to put
it into Sleep or Hibernate mode rather than continually rebooting?
Duke Hall, by email
How you start and shut down your PC shouldn’t
make any significant difference to its longevity. The two opposing arguments
are that the thermal shock of booting from cold can shorten the lives of some
components. On the other hand electronic devices have finite lives and leaving
a PC in a semi-active hibernate or sleep state can contribute to their demise.
Rebooting refreshes some system files that can become cluttered or corrupted
after sustained operation but it’s much less of a problem with Vista and W7.
Waking a PC from sleep or hibernate is obviously much quicker than booting but
it there may be problems reinstating connections with a network or some
In the end there’s no way of predicting what
will eventually kill your PC but if it makes it through the first few months,
when parts are most likely to fail, you protect your system from viruses and
malware, avoid physical shock, vibration, excessive heat, humidity, dust and
keep it away from strong magnetic fields then statistically there is quite a
good chance it will make it through to retirement. This is normally around five
to seven years from new, by which time you will probably have replaced it. And
if it does throw an unexpected wobbly you can minimise the damage and
disruption by making regular backups of irreplaceable files on an external hard
© R. Maybury 2011 1508